The Weird Way to Boost Your Sad Mood

Jenna Birch
by Jenna Birch
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The Weird Way to Boost Your Sad Mood

Have you ever wondered why you feel the urge to blast your “tearjerker” playlist when you’re down in the dumps? Maybe it’s because sad tracks can actually improve your dreary mood— if they also have one other characteristic, according to new research.

In a study published in the Psychology of Music, researchers at the University of Limerick looked at the effect of “Self-Identified Sad Music” on the moods of participant. Motives for choosing certain kinds of songs varied, but the only quality that directly predicted an uptick in the listener’s mood was if a track was considered “beautiful.” Improved attitude has to do with your perception of the aesthetic beauty of the music and the quality of the song. Which means sorrowful ballads can help you indulge your bad day, and simultaneously give you a pick-me-up. (It makes sense that your post-breakup Adele binge was really a form of self-soothing, right?)

The next time you’re feeling blue, consider putting some somber melodies on repeat, as long as you promise to feel better after. Here are 20 sad-but-beautiful songs that may help lift your spirits:

  1. “The House That Built Me,” Miranda Lambert
  2. “Sad Beautiful Tragic,” Taylor Swift
  3. “Someone Like You,” Adele
  4. “Say Something,” A Great Big World
  5. “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” John Mayer
  6. “Hey Jude,” The Beatles
  7. “Jar of Hearts,” Christina Perri
  8. “The Scientist,” Coldplay
  9. “Tears in Heaven,” Eric Clapton
  10. “When It Rains,” Paramore
  11. “If I Die Young,” The Band Perry
  12. “Charlie Boy,” The Lumineers
  13. “Stay,” Sugarland
  14. “It Will Rain,” Bruno Mars
  15. “The A Team,” Ed Sheeran
  16. “Apologize,” One Republic
  17. “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston
  18. “Every Breath You Take,” The Police
  19. “Something in the Way,” Nirvana
  20. “Doesn’t Remind Me,” Audioslave

Have you ever tried this sad-song trick to boost your mood? What’s your favorite “downer” tune?

About the Author

Jenna Birch
Jenna Birch

Jenna Birch is a health and lifestyle writer. She has written for many web and print publications, including Marie Claire, Runner’s World, and As a nutrition and fitness junkie, she’s a lifelong athlete, major college sports fan and developing yogi—but still can’t resist the allure of an occasional chocolate lava cake. (Everything in moderation, right?) For more, visit her at or follow her on Twitter.  


14 responses to “The Weird Way to Boost Your Sad Mood”

  1. Avatar mediabrainwash says:

    Or just play any Morrissey or The smiths albums in addition to this playlist.

  2. Avatar geebus says:

    Your title sounds more like a scam google advert (one weird trick to whiten your teeth…) or a spam email than a useful article.

    However, a big ‘well done’ for linking to the study.
    Please, please, please start backing up the nutrition information in this blog with supporting studies; what with it being the resendetre of this site an’ all!

    • Avatar Michelle Helen Donovan says:

      “Raison d’etre”. I’m not sure what resendetre is, but I know it’s not the word you’re looking for. Don’t use a term if you don’t know how it’s spelled.

      • Avatar geebus says:

        As it goes, I had googled for the correct spelling, but it would seem managed to fail to correctly paste the appropriate spelling. You did seem to understand exactly what I meant. Are you suggesting, for instance, that dyslexic people should use a vastly reduced vocabulary?

        • Avatar Michelle Helen Donovan says:

          I’m suggesting that you shouldn’t use a phrase if you don’t know how to spell it. Nothing more, nothing less. Quit trying to put words in my mouth when you don’t even know how to spell the ones coming out of yours.

          • Avatar geebus says:

            Just me, or anyone?
            Why, either way?

            However, we’ve established that when I posted I DID know how to spell, but had failed to correctly present that knowledge, so the point is moot.

      • Avatar pzj says:

        Does it truly matter that geebus spelled the phrase incorrectly? The overall tone of the comment was complimentary. Why pick a fight? Let it be…

  3. Avatar Emm says:

    Also Say something by A great big World

  4. Avatar Sean says:

    Scars – by Papa Roach. Playing it now, as I’ve had a rather downer day. Cool article!

  5. Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

  6. Avatar hh says:

    I find that when I’m in a depressed mood I gravitate toward sad songs and they just make it worse. It’s like having someone to commiserate with when I need someone to say cheer the f**k up!

  7. Avatar Naomi says:

    Hurt by Christina Aguilera

  8. Avatar Meg says:

    Skin (Sarabeth) – Rascal Flatts, sad, beautiful and uplifting by the end.

  9. Avatar MilitantRubberDucky says:

    “Sarasavati” by Mary Lambert; “Down” by Jason Walker; “Last Request” by Paolo Nutini; “Black Baloon” by The Kills; “Can’t Let You Go” by Matchbox Twenty; “Mean” by Pink; “Skipping Stones” by Amos Lee; “Stupid Boy” by Keith Urban; “Now Comes the Night” by Rob Thomas; “Halleluja” by Jeff Buckley; “Almost Lover” by A Fine Frenzy; “Bourbon in Kentucky” by Dierks Bentley; “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran; “Back Stabbin’ Betty” by Cage the Elephant; “Hope She’ll be Happier” by Bill Withers.

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